Part of my kids’ Monday morning routine at school is an exercise called Three-Word Weekend, a game in which third-graders share the three words that best capture their adventures since school let out on Friday. We try to discuss our kids' words as a family on Sunday night over dinner, having learned that the challenge of recalling everything we experienced is helped by some parental prodding. (Really, nothing happened this weekend that’s worth remembering?) And, the process of narrowing down all the possible word choices to just three takes some discipline. 

The best part of the exercise, though, is  it forces us to reflect with gratitude and accomplishment on the recent past. 

Using the concept to look back on an entire year is the perfect antidote to the tiresome tradition of making New Year’s resolutions. Instead of a long list boxes to be checked, it’s a short list representing things you actually got done.

So, I’ve been reflecting about our past year at ArtsWave and what three words I would choose to summarize it. Here's my three-word year-in-review: 


The team at ArtsWave has completely reinvented our operations over the last 12 months from a tech standpoint. Literally every functional area has been transformed through long-overdue upgrades to systems, including the way we send out this email to you. There are a ton of new workflows, online folders and virtual processes behind the scenes.

But there’s also an immense amount of newly accessible information that directly benefits you and the rest of our donors and friends, including our new arts calendar,; our new website; a new online application platform for grant seekers; and an innovative GIS mapping tool we're rolling out now to arts organizations. 

When we asked our Board to make this slew of infrastructure investments using reserve money, there was concern that we were taking on too much, too fast -- but no concern it wasn’t absolutely essential. I’m so proud of the ArtsWave team for embracing what turned out to be 2015’s major gift of new technology. For years to come we will be seeing the benefits of increased efficiency for stakeholders and staff, better intelligence from our data, and innovative leveraging of resources. 


2015 was a year full of surprises at ArtsWave, especially when we reflect on the success of the ArtsWave Community Campaign last spring. With a great volunteer team led by Tom Williams, we were steadily tracking for success. But, we had an ambitious stretch goal of $12,250,000, and not until the last afternoon of the campaign did we reach it. It took until the very last hour and the very last contribution from more than 42,000 donors to hit a new national record for combined arts support by a single region.

We were also surprised when 2016 Campaign Co-Chair Jill Meyer announced a personal transition over the summer to her new role as CEO & President of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce. This signals an unexpected and powerful opportunity to further align the arts and business communities in the year ahead! 


The third word I think of in reflecting on 2015 is all about forward movement. ArtsWave shared its new 10-year strategy, a Blueprint for Collective Action in the Arts Sector,and has been gratified by the community’s enthusiastic response.

And the region’s arts organizations took big leaps of their own. Cultural facilities were top-of-mind, as the long-awaited and hard-fought campaign to raise moneyfor the revitalization of Music Hall announced success this year. The Contemporary Arts Center revealed a re-imagined first floor lobby and gathering space. Kennedy Heights Arts Center opened its new Lindner Arts Annex. Landmark Productions opened the doors to the new Warsaw Federal Incline Theater in Price Hill. The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati has built a brand new home for its educational programs, as well. Cincinnati Shakespeare Company unveiled plans for a new theater on the corner of Washington Park in Over-the-Rhine. And much, much more!

Leaps in audience engagement, community impact, artistic vision and forward-thinking leadership from the 100 arts and cultural organizations that ArtsWave is proud to support. A wonderful way to start a new year.


When you think about your own 2015, what three words come to mind? Share your own Three-Word 2015 on ArtsWave's Facebook page

Happy New Year from all of us at ArtsWave!